Friday, January 15, 2010

The Odyssey

Odysseus faced the Scylla and Charybdis. Gulliver handled the Lilliputians. Benjamin Herson and Jeff Deck confronted the erroneous employ of the English language. The great blind poet couldn’t have written it better… or could he?

I just learned of their book, “The Great Typo Hunt,” which is set to be released in August. Herson and Deck road-tripped, finding 437 typos on billboards, landmarks, and various signs across the country. In fact, they corrected 236 cases of improper punctuation, spelling and syntax, earning federal vandalism charges. All of the evidence proving their crimes was easily gathered in photos from their own blog.

Personally, I wondered about their choices. When a Las Vegas show dubs itself the “Greartest Show on Earth,” was it in need of correction or just avoiding trademark infringement with Ringling Brothers, figuring the people seeing that sign on The Strip would already be three sheets to the wind and not notice?

Did they dash into grocery stores, changing every “Ten Items or Less” check-out sign to “Ten Items or Fewer”? (Richmond will miss you, Ukrop’s, and your proper word usage.)

Did they scribble away at unnecessary quotation marks that made signs somehow suspicious? (My favorite is an oddly creepy billboard for a church in North Carolina that’s been up for years: We “love” all people.)

Intrigued by this story, I wanted to know more. After a quick Google search, I discovered that Herson and Deck aren’t alone on their quest. In Boston, there’s the Grammar Vandal (; there’s an active presence by ‘GrammarCops’ on Twitter, linking to a blog with over 18,000 visitors (; these perfectionists are patrolling all over the place. And for some perhaps crazy reason, that makes me happy

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